Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Directed by: Fumihiko Sori
Written by: Jeffrey Scott
Starring: Colleen Clinkenbeard, Chuck Huber and Luci Christian
Synposis: Set between the first and second DRAGON AGE video games, this installment of the series follows famed dragon hunter and seeker, Cassandra, as she takes down a plot that threatens the ruling order.

I'm not the most well-versed individual when it comes to anime. Sure, I dabbled in a little DRAGONBALL Z like most dudes and have seen all Miyazaki movies, but apart from that I'm not big into anime.  More recently, I've gotten into a show called TIGER AND BUNNY.But I sure as hell am going to enjoy a film when it's good anime. I can honestly say that there is just something that I've always loved about animation whether it's computer or hand-drawn, and when the good folks at FUNIimation had an advanced screening of one the movies they would be showing, I figured it be a good idea to explore the anime world more and check at least one of the movies shown during the Dallas International Film Festival. And I was not disappointed with DRAGON AGE: DAWN OF THE SEEKER. This movie takes place between the two DRAGON AGE video games, and since I don't have a modern gaming console (gasp), I did not have the best context to appreciate the details for this movie, but it is still very enjoyable.

Since most of the people interested in reading this probably know more about the video game, so I won't summarize too harshly. There are a few warring factions in this world. You have the Seekers, highly loyal elite knights, then there were the Templar, who are more of the infantry. They all serve the Chantry of Andraste, who are the sort of religious royalty in this world. Then, on the more magical side, there were the Circle and Blood Mages. If I have to spell it out to you, then yes, the Blood Mages are the evil ones.

What struck me the most about this movie was the visual style. It was wholly unique and unlike anything you would see on the big screen nowadays. It feels like both an extended cut scene from a video game and earlier 2D/CGI animation graphics. However at the beginning of the movie, it was a bit difficult to adjust to the style. I can readily admit that this style might look cheap to some people because it is unique, but once I personally got adjusted to it, I enjoyed it.

Another very highpoint was the creature design and rendering. Obviously, because of title, you know that there will be dragons. They do play an important role in the film, and at least visually, they are the highlight of the entire movie. There were four that were featured prominently, and just like with real animals, they felt like different breeds of the same race. There were also horned demons who I have to admit looked cool, but the horned demons looked strangely out of place in the movie. They looked too much like something out of a video game and not like the other creatures around them in the battle scenes. Speaking of the battles, they were all shot and choreographed very well. You can see everything that is going on in the screen clearly, which is something of a lost art nowadays. You will have Cassandra do some crazy stunt like jumping off a dragon and cutting soldiers left and right on her way down or even jumping through a horde of monsters and you see everything clearly.

What ended up not working for me much was the plot's simplicity, and its supposed plot twists. It felt very cliche from the archetypal characters. If you have seen an action movie, you have seen this movie. But then again, AVATAR was no great masterpiece of storytelling, and I can concede that in some instances such as this, you can just sit back and enjoy the visual aspect of the movie. The story telling aspect will be greater for those that actually know the video games, but I still enjoyed this film quite a bit even without context.

DRAGON AGE: DAWN OF THE SEEKER plays at the the Texas Theatre on Friday, April 20th at 9:30 p.m. and at the the Angelika 7 at Sunday, April 22nd at 12:15 p.m. Click here for tickets

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